Rolls-Royce has run a demonstrator engine, devoted to the optimisation of a new lean-burn and low-emissions combustion system, for the first time. The ALECSys (Advanced Low Emissions Combustion System) is being designed for future jet engine programmes and ran successfully on a testbed in Derby, UK.

Technology from the system features in both the Advance3 and the UltraFan demonstrator programmes.

The lean-burn system improves the pre-mixing of fuel and air prior to ignition to deliver a more complete combustion of the fuel and, as a result, lower nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions. Reducing both is increasingly important to airlines, for economic and environmental reasons. The system received development funding from the European Union’s Clean Sky SAGE (Sustainable And Green Engine) programme.

The lean-burn system will play an important part in delivering the IntelligentEngine, Rolls-Royce’s vision for the future, as it builds on pioneering technology and digital capabilities to deliver important benefits for customers.

Parallel developments

Other recent technology milestones for Rolls-Royce include running the Advance3 test engine for the first time in November – it has the same core architecture that will be used in UltraFan. In September, the Power Gearbox, which will enable UltraFan to work efficiently at high bypass ratios, reached an aerospace record of 70,000hp.

UltraFan has a geared, scalable design suitable for wide-and narrow-body aircraft. It is designed to be 25% more fuel efficient than the first generation of Rolls-Royce Trent engines: The ALECSys system ran for the first time housed within an adapted Trent 1000 engine.